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This album is for a very special and particular public: open-minded progressive rock fans that don't mind if an album has a jazzy sound and world music influences. I consider myself as a very open-minded person and that's why I gave this album several tries.
It is not easy to get an approach to this album even if the musicians are all very talented and trying to impress and surprise you. But if you take your time to give this album a chance, you will discover many details and interesting passages. The songs really grow on you, but when you listen to this stuff first, you will feel mixed up as there are many random sounds and no chorus, no melodies, no vocals that you could keep in mind. There is a great nothing in your head when you listen to this album for the first time and you might think that band really somehow plays whatever it wants like in a jam session.
There are indeed some songs that exaggerate on this point. The so-called intro "Arsis" is a jazzy tuning in of a bass guitar mixed with some moments of silence. "Grace" is announced as a live song but has nothing of a live atmosphere and presents some random structures and strange melodies in over eight minutes that can become really long and boring if you don't play an instrument yourself or could appreciate the employed techniques. The strange "The brook the ocean", my second favourite opus on this album, works surprisingly well with its random sounds and reminds me a little bit of Genesis' "The waiting room" or Pink Floyd's "On the run" with a little bit more moderation.
There are also some more rhythmic and straighter songs like "Muttersprache" and "Some brighter thing" that are easier to appreciate and could almost please to some purist metal heads. My favourite song is though the very diversified and mystic "A Shaman's whisper" that includes many world music elements and interesting sound structures.
I would say that this album is very interesting from a technical and artistically point of view but it lacks of a straight line and decides to present many particular styles instead of only one particular style which adds a certain compilation and jam mood to the album. It is amazing to listen to this album to learn an instrument or to use this album as an ambient record while you are cooking, reading or simply relaxing, but even though there are many different styles presented on this album, I wouldn't call it profound. A little bit less of all would have been more intense and inspiring in my opinion. That's why I consider this album as an interesting experience worth listening to but not as a masterpiece as many people call it.
But at least and without the glimpse of a doubt and to sum this up for you this album is simply: different!
This album mixes two styles together: Jazz and Prog Metal. The songwriting is absolutely fabulous, and the songs aren't too repetitive. It also has heaps of improvising (the first song is only bass improvising). The best part of this album after the jazzy riffs, is undoutably the incredibly improvised leads. Just gotta love extremely skilled guitarists and bassists jam together and make an album.
The first song on this album shows the bassists' potential. It's an instrumental bass-only track, and he just improvises and makes it sound very jazzy. The following two songs are my favourite. Mutterspache starts off with three guitars, one doing rhythm and the two others doing leads. They sort of do a delay, and that's very unique. The verse is amazing. It mainly focuses on piano and guitar, but the backing drum track is simply amazing. It actually gave me creeps. Right after it, one of those jaw-dropping leads. The song continues with progressive riffs throughout. The thing that interested me the most in this song is the very different structure. Leads of keyboards can come in at any time, which makes this one of the most unpredictable albums I've ever heard. Mutterspache is six minutes long, and I think it contains six or seven riffs. Unlike a lot of bands, Gordian Knot compose their songs in a very different way, and every song is well crafted,
and everything sounds extremely professional.
Don't expect this to be headbanging material. If you like interesting song structures, guitar improvisation, carefully played drums, progressive metal, and jazz, this album is perfect for you!
Gordian Knot plays instrumental progressive rock/metal. Now for the review.
1. Arsis: This track i usually skip over. It's just Sean Malone doing a bass solo, and showing off his immense bass skills.
2. Muttersprache: The song starts out with some groovy effects to get the song going. The song keeps the groovy feel into a clean part with some piano and effects backing. Now the song really gets going, the beat gets a little heavier and into a solo full of lengthy smooth legatos. Very nice musicianship here. Into a very progressive riff, then back those groovy effects from the beginning off the song and into the clean part with the nice backings, and a little solo over this one, it fits perfectly with the atmosphere of the song. Then into the climax of the song, a progressive part thats dominated by a nifty guitar riff with some atmospheric stuff in the background. Now we're back to the effects from the very beginning of the song. Then the song proceeds to pick up again with another funky solo, then ends on a nice progressive riff that was used in the song already. Great song.
3. A Shaman's Whisper: This song is more of a metal tune. The bass is also very present on this track. This track is full of "heavy" palm mutes and fancy solo licks. The next riff in this song is one of beaty, it uses the same chords (basically) as the beginning of the song and plays this solo riff over it, it's sounds absolutely awesome. Then a transition into a clean solo with just bass and drums behind it, with some harmonizing in the solo. Then in come the distorted guitars along with a nice solo, full of nice legatos. Then a quiet pause, sort of like the calm before the storm because you can anticipate that it's coming. Then into a very avant garde solo, it fits incredibely well with the mood of the song. From the solo it goes right into some funky chords which lead itself back into the progressive mood of the song, and into a nifty little off time clean solo, with some nice drumming. The song then returns to it's metal form with a solo and some more palm muted chords. The song proceeds to end on a cool little "solo riff." Great song aswell.
4. Fischer's Gambit: This song starts of with just bass and drums. Then enter the piano, it's almost like he is just improvising along with the drums and bass. Then in comes the acoustic guitar with a solo with some spanish guitar elements in it. This is a fairly long solo, but soon enough somewhat a riff shows it's head but still it's more of a solo, the piano reappars and the guitar plays solo that fits right along with what the piano is doing. A good track, but it's more a lengthy filler track.
5. Grace (live): This track is one of the most beatiful songs i've ever listened to. It's Sean Malone on the chapman stick, the only knock on it is that it's about 9 minutes long. I still enjoy it.
6. Some Brighter Thing: This song starts out with a nice groovy piano intro and some "tribal" drums playing backing. You soon are able to hear the guitars coming in, growing louder with ever beat. Then the song is in full bloom with a some guitar solo licks over the ever growing guitar. Then your into probably the only part of the CD where you can headbang, it's some palm muted chords with a solo. This doesn't last long, soon come in the same guitars that are used as cellos (like in "Grace") to back a progressive melody that has taken the place of the heavy spot. Soon the song is just downright progressive, weird riffs and solos out of seemingly nowhere, with a good bassline and some off time stuff. Then the song resumes to it's heaviness from before along with a solo, then they intertwine the heavy riff along with the progressive riff from the song making for a nice combo. A nice interlude between piano and drum then follows. This is where the song gets weird, the guitar is playing this very weird riff with some very weird drums. When it all stops, a solo emerges full of whammy bar wankage and some nice tapping. The solo continues on through another very odd part of the song. I can't even explain the riff behind the solo because it's quite weird. The song takes you back to it's roots with a solo that fits more of the normal style while still being original at the same time and the song comes to a close with a very nice outro, reminiscent of the intro of the song. Brilliant song, probably my favorite on the album.
7. The Brook the Ocean: This is another song that gives Sean Malone to show off his brilliance on Bass. After a quick intro, a bass solo comes appears. Soon after a drum solo then back to the intro, then the song ends. I usually skip this song, it's just an excuse for drum and bass solos.
8. Singing Deep Mountain: The intro is a nice guitar "solo riff" with some good drumming behind it. Soon a nice guitar solo to fit over the weird riff that guitarist is playing. Then the song picks up with the pianos, drums, bass, and guitars coming together for just a short while before going into a short guitar solo. Then all the instruments come together once again making for a very good sound. Then come the only "vocals" on the album and they aren't vocals at all, it's just "oohs and aahs" for a little while. This is followed by a nice piano interlude with drums and bass along for the ride. Soon comes a nice clean solo which soon becomes distorted, the solo gives a lot without doing much, it's got some very nice stuff. After the solo a slow riff comes in, which leads right into all the instruments coming together once again, and this leads right into an odd guitar solo followed with more ooh's and aah's to fit the melody. The song then fades away on a melody of just guitars being used like cellos again, this ends the album.
This is one of my favorite cd's in my collection and for a black/death head, that is saying something. This album gets 5/5
I swear, this is music to just hang out too. If you've heard the first Gordian Knot album, then you know what to expect here. There is the same Chapman Stick here, played by the creative and ingenius Sean Malone. There is still the highly groove-influenced drumming here, and the almost casual, laid-back shredding. For new Gordian Knot fans, yes you heard right. This isn't mindlessly fast, seemingly random, heartless shreddng. This is, believe it or not, very emotive shredding, done rather tastefully at that. The music's influence draws from a variety of genre's, such as jazz, rock, metal, and classical, and there's some i can't even identify.
Also any Cynic fans out there, A Shaman's Whisper features...the members of Cynic! Not only is that a must-have song for Cynic fanboys, but it is also an amazing song. Tremendous drumming and guitar-playing alike, it's also got it's fair share of groove and almost a funk feel to it. Just about the only thing on this album I don't like is the track "The Brook, The Ocean". It's basically just a glorified bass solo that gets boring after the first few listens. Other than that, pure perfection in the form of music.
Album Highlights - A Shaman's Whisper, Fischer's Gambit, Sing Deep Mountain
A friend of mine recommended this band to me when I was expressing interest in technical bands such as Spiral Architect, so I decided to purchase this album via Century Media Records. It's not at all what I was expecting, since it's not blindingly technical, at least not in the vein of Spiral Architect. I was expecting a band that sounded blatantly metal with vocals and strong progressive qualities. What I got instead is 'smooth-jazz' with metal and rock guitars thrown in for good measure. No vocals are present on this album, and though I was bothered by it at first, now I appreciate it more because there's more room to guess the inspiration for the song titles and the absence of vocals is relaxing.
Sean Malone of Cynic fame plays on this album and his riffs seamlessly flow from one section of the song to the other, giving way to tranquil drum and bass interludes. Not much on this record is overtly exciting to where you'd feel terribly inclined to headbang or move around, but it does paint a fantastic atmosphere where the listener can escape from reality for 30-40-50 some-odd minutes.
Metallic elements are arguably too scarce on this album and most likely on Gordian Knot's debut for them to be included on this site, but I suppose their lineup is influential enough in metal for them to be valid. The players on Emergent are all masterful and have a keen eye for music theory and composition, and this album runs the gamut from jazz to rock to metal.
For metal purists-STAY AWAY!
For music lovers-BUY NOW!